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Somatoform Pain Disorder

What is it?  |  Causes | Symptoms  |   Treatment |
What is Somatoform pain disorder?

Somatoform pain disorder / Pain disorder is a condition characterized by the presence of bodily symptoms that suggest a general medical condition. However, these symptoms cannot be traced back to a physical cause.

The pain and other problems people experience are real. The symptoms can significantly affect daily functioning.

People with pain disorder frequently seek medical care. They may become socially isolated and experience problems with work and family life.


What causes Somatoform pain disorder?

The cause of somatoform pain disorder is known to be multi factorial. The cause can be biological, psychological or socio-cultural. Biological factors: Genetics – there is evidence that heredity plays a role in experiencing pain symptoms. Psychological factors include stress and emotional distress.

Stress affects the immune responses, which trigger various gastro-intestinal responses. Emotional distress can cause muscular pains and headaches through increased muscular tension.

Socio –cultural factors – In families and cultures in which psychological problems are stigmatized, individual may communicate distress through a somatic symptom.



The main symptom of somatoform pain disorder is persistent and severe pain in any part of the body that lasts for more than six months and limits an individual’s work, relationships, and other activities.

How can Somatoform pain disorder be treated?

Pain disorder can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. Cognitive behavior therapy is found to be effective in treatment of pain disorder. CBT helps the individual to recognize what causes pain, to develop effective ways of coping with painful bodily sensations.